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Posts Tagged ‘Eagle Nest Lodge’

Duke's old home, source of many strong shorthairs

Years ago I told you the story of Duke, a young shorthair that arrived at Eagle Nest Lodge just a day or two before we did. His stoic, patient demeanor in the kennel intrigued me. I asked manager John Shirley if we could take him the next morning on a Hungarian partridge hunt.

The show we made was one of my favorites: inspiring, moving, and encouraging. If only every young dog could watch it when he arrives at his “forever home!” Duke started tentatively, whether it was new surroundings, the crowd associated with making a TV show, or simply trying to figure out who the boss was, I don’t know. But by the end of the day, he was pointing, retrieving, and showing signs of the confident dog he ultimately became. John assures me he’s a one man dog, working well, but only for him.

Impressed and touched by Duke’s growth in that one day, I promised myself I’d visit Pheasant Bonanza, the Nebraska kennel and hunting operation where Duke had been bred and trained. And this fall, I finally got there.

My first stop at a new place is usually the kennel. It was populated by a half-dozen Duke lookalikes … an elegant, elongated, solid-colored head being the giveaway they were cousins of my former Montana hunting partner. Like their distant relative, they rested calmly in their runs, exhibiting a worldly demeanor.

Tad sets up a shot at Pheasant Bonanza. Note the lush cover.

The next day, we brought two along. They did not disappoint. Thick cover was no obstacle to these smallish, graceful dogs. Rather than bull their way through head-high grass, they glided between the clumps, pointing and backing each other like pro’s. They danced among the small trees, footfalls delicate. If only their guest was a better shooter, they could have demonstrated more often their skillful retrieving abilities.

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I am the luckiest guy in the world. Great wife, good friends and I live in a spectacular place. Oh, and I make TV shows about bird hunting and gun dogs.

Right now, I’m in the midst of watching all the raw footage we shot last year, to air in this fall’s new shows. Yes, it’s tedious … lots of walking, scenic shots, re-takes, muffed lines and misbehaving dogs (and hosts). But every few minutes there’s something that reminds me why we go afield. It’s the new friends we share a hunt with. Or dogs with true personality. Sometimes it’s a nugget of useful information on training, birds, or shooting.

Here’s a raw, uncut, example from a Hungarian partridge hunt near Hardin, Montana, with my friends at Eagle Nest Lodge. So as not to bore you, most of this footage will end up on the digital cutting room floor, but the good stuff will be on an upcoming show. I hope you like it.

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